Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the Home Affairs Minister of South Africa and former wife of the country's current president, was elected by 37 of the African Union's 54 members into the seat of chairwoman of the African Union Commision.
According to the AU's website: "The Commission is the Secretariat of the Union entrusted with executive functions. It is composed of 10 Officials: A Chairperson, a Deputy Chairperson; Eight (8) Commissioners and Staff members. The structure represents the Union and protects its interest under the auspices of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government as well as the Executive Committee."
More details about the structure of the African Union can be found here.
Reuters reports that cheers broke out at the AU's headquarters when news of Dlamini-Zuma's victory was announced. The Wall Street Journal writes that the election was contentious, with some of the smaller African nations feeling that the role should go to a representative from a state with less independent power than South Africa wields.
As chairwoman, Dlamini-Zuma will face challenges such as fallout from the coup in Mali and ongoing conflict in the Sudan.